This was my 4th year volunteering for Help Portrait. I was turned on to the idea thanks to my friends over at Long Island Photo Gallery. I researched the movement and I found that their mission was quite simple. Find people in need and take their picture. Well, St. Patrick’s Parish in Bayshore made it simple for us. They found us the people and we showed up with tons of gear to take professional portraits for every family.
The church puts on a really nice Christmas party for families in need that do not have much to give their children for the holidays. They feed the families a nice meal, Radio Disney comes in to get the kids dancing and laughing and then Santa Clause comes in for a visit to deliver each child a bag of gifts that were on their Christmas list. It is one of the most heart-warming experiences I have ever been a part of.
My role in this whole thing is to take portraits of all the families that wish to receive a free portrait. Giving the gift of photography, as the Deacon described it. Some of the families do not have much to smile about, but the children were adorable and excited to see Santa. We took professional portraits of each family and our friends at LIPG were generous enough to print all the pictures for the church so they can distribute them to the families.
I am privileged to be part of this awesome event and I look forward to doing it for years to come.
Have a Happy and Safe New Year!
On one of the coldest days of the year, we decided to head out to the rooftop terrace of an NYC penthouse apartment. We were looking for some nice skyline views and hopefully a nice sunset. For this weeks image, I chose to show some basic concepts I like to use during any sunset shoot and that is to include at least one silhouette. The main challenge is to include some some of the surrounding environment so it does not look like a plain silhouette image with nothing but empty space in the background. Body language is a pretty key factor here as well.
We shot 95% of this engagement shoot on this terrace, starting about an hour and a half before sunset. It was freezing cold and we needed to keep taking breaks to go inside and warm up. It was worth it as both the terrace and view were awesome.
More pictures to come. Happy New Year!
I met Amy and Joe a little over a year ago. They are an awesome, fun-loving couple that wanted one basic, yet very important thing for their wedding from each vendor. They wanted to be sure if they were going to pay someone to do a job, that they were going to do that job well. I gave them the opportunity to put that theory to the test when we came up with the idea for their engagement shoot. Their first date was a the Top of the Rock in NYC, so of course, that is where we went. We got some great images that day and after that, there were no doubts.
It really is a serious consideration when you hire someone to do a job. How do you really know that the work they are showing you is theirs? I often work with other photogs on the wedding day, but I made a strict business decision when I started that I would not put a photo from another photographer in my portfolio. I get feedback from people which implies that knowing that makes them feel more comfortable. At this point, I am doing engagement sessions for 90% of the wedding I shoot, so they are getting to know me a little before the wedding day, and likewise.
We me recently as we viewed their wedding photos together, and it was really nice seeing their reactions to each and every photo. I kept hearing, “I can’t wait to show my family these pictures”.
Congratulations Amy & Joseph. I wish you all the best as you start a new chapter in your lives.
When time allows, I enjoy spending some time with the bride and groom to capture some fun shots that play off their personalities. These shots are never preconceived, it all depends on the subjects. I have been fortunate to have met some pretty cool and fun people, the anti bridezilla.
This week is a quick hit cause I have a lot of work to catch up on due to the holiday week coming up. I want to wish everyone out there a very Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you get to spend some time with the family.
The first dance is one of my most anticipated shots in any wedding. I’m not sure exactly why, maybe it has something to do with my love for music. When most people think wedding photo, they probably visualize an image of the bride and groom either kissing or posing for the camera. First dance is always atop my list, if not first. I think it’s because you can always find a picture of two people kissing or smiling for the camera, they are flooded all over facebook. There is a certain class when I look at a nice image of two people dancing.
I am anticipating this image from the moment I enter the reception venue. I visualize where I am going to stand, where my assistant will be and any other variables that come into play. My assistant has a pretty important assignment during this time and needs to have some experience, or it does not work. That is why I am happy that my wife has taken this responsibility and has been working with me now for over a year.
The newlyweds have just been introduced to the reception and are now on showcase in the center of the dance floor. There is a moment when their song begins to play where they both seem to block out the reality that they are surrounded by every important person in their lives right now. The moment is usually just that, a moment and it’s gone. I always try to capture this moment if it happens because sometimes they come out of it, reality kicks in and it looks as if they are dancing for the camera.
Sometimes it takes time for a child to warm up to the stranger with the big camera. If you don’t have an opportunity to photograph a child before the formal portraits, and they are either shy or just do not want to have their photo taken, it may not turn out good. One very important thing I learned about photographing people in general is that there is just as much work that goes into building relationships as actually taking pictures and are often done at the same time. By that I mean simply getting to know people and more importantly, letting them get to know you and feel comfortable with you.
This beautiful young lady was as shy as can be when I arrived at the home where the bride was getting prepared. I introduced myself and went about setting up my camera. I tried not to move around too much as to intimidate her. I sat close to my equipment bag and was testing some shots inside the den where the wedding dress was hanging. The sunlight was pouring in through the windows, so I was testing for a good exposure on the dress where I would not blow out the highlights or underexpose from the sunlight. I then opened up a third stop to better expose for skin tones because I wanted to be ready to grab a shot of her, which I knew would be quick.
I turned around to see what she was up to. She was peeking her head out from the kitchen watching everything I was doing. I told her I liked her tiara and asked if I could take her picture because she looked so beautiful. She nodded yes and quickly ducked right back into the kitchen. When she peeked her head back out, I was already focused and ready to snap the shot that literally lasted about a half a second. I smiled and said “I got you”. I then asked her if she would like to see the photo. She smiled and nodded yes again as she came over to look at the back of my camera. I told her again how beautiful she looked and wouldn’t you know it, she followed me around and modeled for me for the next 20 minutes. When it came time for the formals, she was my best subject (next to the bride, of course).
This time of year is something special. Like everything else, it comes and goes and before you know if, it’s gone. I usually set aside some important time to go out and shoot fall foliage, but this year has been real busy. However, I was able to deprive myself of some much needed sleep and head over to Belmont Lake State Park early one morning this week at sunrise and get a few images. Holy shit was it cold, but it is beautiful and peaceful to be at such a busy place that early in the morning…..and so close to home.
More like images of the week, this week I’m cheating a bit, but they are all from the same session. Sometimes it’s just plain hard to choose just one. If I could, I would post an entire image gallery each week, but that would be way too many photos to insert into the blog post.
This year, I have been fortunate to be busy and having so much fun doing what I do. Although I have a pretty decent web presence, I owe a lot to my friends and family who have endorsed my work this past year, because I know it’s because they believe in me. I am more confident than ever before because I do what I believe is right. I have listened to every professional in the business say that the most difficult thing as a photographer is try to be different than everyone else out there. The way I approached that theory is simply to not try to copy everyone out there so that I am not the same. This gives me the freedom to be instinctive and approach each shoot with a clear mind while not following a fixed shot list each time out. If that were the case, all of my images would look the same and this would eventually become boring.
Well, off to work. Enjoy the weekend and thanks for checking in.
This weeks image of the week comes from a wedding I just finished covering 11 hours ago. I rarely post images from events this recent, but it is so vivid in my mind. These people were so much fun, I could not help myself.
A 13 hour day of no pressure, fun-filled image making. From the moment I entered the brides home, her family and friends were so warm and inviting. Both families were amazing and the core group of friends could not have closer. They were genuinely cool with awesome personalities all around. It was so great to work with them. You know it’s a good night when the family and wedding party are looking for you at the end of the night (or morning) to make sure they say goodbye to you before you split. It really was awesome to have met everyone last night.
Congratulations to Shamie & Anthony. I look forward to meeting with you soon to go through your images together. More images to come soon.
You know what it’s like when you get that wedding invitation in the mail. The first thing you probably do is check the date in your calendar, cause that just makes sense. Then you begin to think about what you are going to wear. Maybe you need to get a new dress, or pull that old suit out of the back of the closet to send it to the cleaners. What if that invitation said something other than formal or black tie in the dress category….
Every once in a while, I find the theme of a wedding drift outside of the formal tradition. It’s kind of refreshing in that it reminds us that it is our day and we really can do what ever we want.This bride and groom held there wedding at their private residence dressed in an all out country theme. The guys were uniformly dressed in wrangler jeans cowboy boots/hats (no spurs for safety purposes). The girls were also wearing boots with cowgirl dresses. There was a country band playing at the reception and the food served was all barbeque. The bride is a professional horseback rider and yes, we took formal pictures with her horse.
The property was enormous, but there were so many people in attendance, it was difficult to get an environmental picture without guests in the frame. As the sun was saying goodbye, I looked around for a setting to take a few more shots before we completely lost daylight. I was standing on the lawn across from the house (log cabin actually) looking out over the driveway. The sky and silhouetted trees were pretty sweet. I framed the side of the barn on the left and the asked the groom if we could place the carriage on the right in front of the boardwalk. The reception was in full swing right behind me in a huge tent on the lawn and was well illuminated, but only inside the tent itself. There was a portable luxury bathroom trailer on the other side of the barn, so this area was quite busy and the only area outside the tent with an outside light. Because of the bathroom traffic, I was able to test a few shots as people returned from the bathroom. I tested the exposure balance between the sky and the flood light on the front of the barn, which was the key light that would light the bride and groom in this photo. Once I had what I was looking for, I grabbed the bride and groom from the reception and kindly asked them to pose for this picture while asking everyone else to stay clear of the frame for literally about 5 seconds.
I like this image because it totally fits the theme of the wedding. After spending part of the day here, I almost forgot I was still on Long Island.